When starting an eCommerce business entrepreneurs are typically more focused on proving they have a viable business. Often they opt to work on web development, branding, and marketing all on their own. But what about order fulfillment?
Anyone who has had to ship a dozen orders in one sitting has been hit with the harsh reality that order fulfillment is not easy and should not be overlooked. Ensuring you have the shipping of the correct product to the correct customer can be daunting in itself. And what happens when you start receiving more and more orders? This is when there is a fork in the road. It is no longer possible to be able to run your business while continuing to handle the order fulfillment logistics.
You have two choices, one is to hire employees to expand your order fulfillment capabilities, and the other is to seek a 3PL order fulfillment solution provider to pick, pack and ship your products to your customers. Here are 5 clear-cut signs that it is time for your company to seek order fulfillment services.
1) You Are Working Overtime and Still Falling Behind
Often eCommerce business owners think they can handle every aspect of their business operations. More often than not, this is true. Many aspects of eCommerce business development can be handled even as a company grows. This is not the case for order fulfillment. Increases in sales can quickly overwhelm a company and its staff. The further the business develops and succeeds the more shipping is required. Falling behind can mean other aspects of the business suffering. It can also result in customers being frustrated waiting for orders, and even leaving negative feedback. The right order fulfillment partner would solve all of these issues and allow a business to breathe and grow while having the peace of mind that orders are being shipped correctly, on time, and every time.
2) You Do Not Want to Expand Your Staff
Managing employees and a new department can be just as if not more tedious than order fulfilling and shipping orders yourself. The cost of securing and training new staff members can be staggering as well. Imagine having a dedicated order fulfillment employee that calls out sick on your busiest day of the year. This is the harsh reality of expanding your staff to handle your order fulfillment. When you partner with a 3PL company to handle your day-to-day order fulfillment, their employees are your employees. You present guidelines to them of how you want your orders shipped, and they ship your orders out as they come in, and with InterFulfillment, all orders ship out the very same day. This ensures you have customers singing your praises online and frees up your time to focus on what really counts.
3) You Do Not Have the Space to Store and Ship Your Orders
Office space is typically the primary focus for a new eCommerce company. You need space for your and your team to collaborate and expand. Some businesses start off in home offices to keep costs down, work remotely with new employees, and use garages to store and ship products. This may work for a business starting out, but as it continues to grow, more and more space is required. Order fulfillment operations can’t be handled remotely. Products must be stored and shipped at the same location. With a 3PL order fulfillment partner, you don’t need to worry about any of that. You only pay for the exact storage space you need, no matter how much or how little inventory you are storing. And as your business expands, you don’t need to concern yourself with how you will secure additional warehouse and shipping space because that is all taken care of. If you are feeling the space crunch, it is likely time to explore a reliable shipping company to partner with.
4) You Have Seasonal Fluctuations in Order Volume
So many eCommerce companies are seasonal. They experience steep rises in order volume during certain quarters and low order volume in others. For obvious reasons, this can be a tremendous headache for an entrepreneur. Imagine wanting to sell your product, but not knowing if you will be able to meet demand in a timely fashion while maintaining your brand’s integrity and image online. You typically can’t expand and retract an order fulfillment department daily. Adding new staff takes time and effort. Imagine building managing an order fulfillment department to handle your busiest quarter only to have to let go of employees the very next quarter and then need them back the quarter after that. With the right 3PL order fulfillment company you don’t need to worry about any of that. Order volume fluctuations are typical and most companies can handle them with little and sometimes no notice while maintaining same-day shipping.
5) You Need More Time to Focus on Other Aspects of Your Business
You have done a great job growing your business, but now you find yourself spending more and more time focused on order fulfillment while the aspects you’re really good at and enjoy are suffering. This can really stunt your business growth. Trying to take on order fulfillment can be overwhelming even when you are not getting many orders, but as you start to grow, it is a full-time job. It is time to focus on your business development and marketing. Time to innovate your product and stabilize your supply chain. Essentially it is time to put order fulfillment in the hands of professionals for the sake of your business.
6) You Have Numerous Sales Channels
Multi-channel business models are the name of the game in eCommerce. There are so many different marketplaces (such as Walmart Canada marketplace) to sell your products and each one comes with a very specific set of shipping protocols. Some sales channels require a specific carrier to be used, other channels require specific packaging. Simply keeping track is daunting and can often involve a ton of data entry. As is simply getting your orders out of the door wasn’t enough, now you need to use a specific account to print a label that is different from that of your other orders. The right order fulfillment company is well-versed in all these protocols and you will never need to think of them again.
When you reach these points and come to the realization you need to automate your order processing and shipping, it is time to begin searching for the right order fulfillment company to handle your shipping. You want to look for a reliable shipping partner that will handle each of your orders as if they were their own all while providing best-in-class customer service. In a future article, we will shed some light on what it takes to vet and choose the best partner for your specific order fulfillment needs. Stay tuned for that!